Parkey boots Dolphins past Chargers
CARSON, Calif. — Cody Parkey all but rolled up the red carpet on the Los Angeles Chargers’ splashy premier on Sunday.
Parker kicked four field goals, but none was bigger than his career-long 54-yarder with 65 seconds left. It lifted the Miami Dolphins to a 19-17 victory over the Chargers before 25,381 at the StubHub Center.
Miami won despite settling for field goals on its three trips in the red zone. But Parkey’s work averted disaster for the Dolphins because in his debut for the team he converted the longest game-winning kick in Dolphins history.
“He bailed us out,” Miami head coach Adam Gase said.
Chargers rookie Younghoe Koo’s 44-yard field-goal attempt with nine seconds remaining was off the mark.
It was the second straight game that Koo had a chance to win or tie in the closing seconds. One was blocked and this one was wide right. He also misfired from 43 yards earlier in the game.
“He didn’t kick well,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said. “We’ll see how he responds.”
A downcast Koo said his erratic effort failed for a simple reason.
“I just pushed it right,” he said. “It’s definitely frustrating.”
While the Chargers fell to 0-2, it was the Dolphins’ first game after their season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was postponed because of Hurricane Irma. Miami has won 10 of its last 12 regular-season games.
Parkey was true on his final attempt as the Chargers lost yet another close game. After dropping an NFL-high eight games last year by seven points or less, the Chargers have picked up right where they left off.
“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said.
Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler, who came out of retirement when Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending knee injury, looked sharp. He completed 24 of 33 passes 230 yards and a touchdown.
“I am enjoying the fact that I am playing football,” Cutler said. “It’s a good group of guys. Young, enthusiastic, and they make me feel young. It’s always fun to win in the NFL, but this locker room is a little bit different. It is special.”
Cutler was able to lean on a sturdy running game led by Jay Ajayi. He paced all rushers with 122 yards on 28 carries. It was the first time the Chargers allowed a 100-yard rusher in 18 games.
“The offensive line was doing a great job today being physical and I think that’s what we needed to keep us in the game,” Ajayi said.
Rivers was 31 of 39 for 282 yards with a touchdown. But it wasn’t enough as the Chargers sunk to 9-25 in their past two-plus seasons.
“The last two weeks it seems like it’s hard to believe after coming from last year that it can be happening like this still,” Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa said. “But it’s not like it is happening for no reasons. There are reasons why it is happening and we have to fix them.”
Parkey’s third field goal, from 35 yards, pulled the Dolphins within 17-16. His second field goal, a 28-yarder, had sliced Miami’s third-quarter deficit to 17-13.
Antonio Gates broke a tie with Tony Gonzalez in the third quarter for most career touchdowns by a tight end, leaping to snag Rivers’ 7-yard pass over the outstretched arms of Nate Allen.
That gave Gates No. 112 in his career and pushed the Chargers back ahead 17-10 as the team mobbed Gates in a dog pile in the back of the end zone.
Kenny Stills hauled in Cutler’s 29-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 10. Stills took advantage of linebacker Jatavis Brown covering him on the third-quarter catch.
The Chargers seized their first lead of the season when Melvin Gordon followed Spencer Pulley’s block on a 1-yard scoring run in the second quarter. Los Angeles took advantage of decent field position after a bad punt by Matt Haack, going 70 yards in seven plays.
Koo, whose last-minute attempt to tie the score was blocked before Los Angeles fell to Denver on Monday, split the uprights on a 41-yard field goal. That pulled the Chargers even at 3.
The Dolphins struck first on Parkey’s 30-yard field goal.
NOTES: Dolphins LB Lawrence Timmons wasn’t with the team because of an undisclosed issue. ... Miami players wore a “One Florida” helmet sticker to honor the state’s resilience after Hurricane Irma. ... Chargers CB Jason Verrett, who is trying to come back from last year’s knee surgery, was inactive. RT Joe Barksdale left the game with a leg injury. ... Former Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson, a club executive who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, was honored at halftime and received his Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence.